“Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’ Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.”
Do You Know God’s Plan and Providence?
In today’s Scripture passage, Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist and was hiding for five months. We know that the Virgin Mary also conceived Jesus when six months had passed since John’s conception. This fact holds a very important meaning. People are born after being in their mothers’ wombs for ten months; Jesus was conceived exactly six months after John the Baptist and born into this world accordingly. The angel Gabriel appeared to and spoke to Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, when he performed his duty of priesthood in the sanctuary. Six months later, he appeared to the Virgin Mary who was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David. This shows that God’s preparations were very detailed.
It says in the Old Testament that Jesus Christ would come to this earth as a descendant of David. Israel considers King David as the greatest king. There is no other king of Israel as famous as King David. He facilitated the unification of all the tribes of the nation of Israel, and there was no other king who feared God as much as King David. There was no other king besides him who was as close to God, pleased Him, and walked with Him. It was also prophesied of and continually said in the Old Testament that Jesus, the Son of God, would be born into this family of Judah.
The angel Gabriel appeared and spoke to Mary who was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David. He said, “Rejoice, highly favored one” (Luke 1:28). Why was Mary, who was highly favored of God, blessed? That is because Jesus Christ who was to come to this earth in order to save us from the sins of the world was born through Mary’s body. So Mary was a blessed person among many people. The angel Gabriel continued to speak to her. It is written, “‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end’” (Luke 1:28-33).
At that time, Mary was engaged to a young man named Joseph. The angel Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you. You will bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (Luke 1:28, 31). The birth of John the Baptist was also exactly as God had planned. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and said, “Your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13). God prepared these two Persons in order to save you and me from all our sins.
Jesus Who Was Prepared by God
It is written, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32). Jesus is the only begotten Son of God the Father. He is our God. He is the King of kings. That God has given Him the throne of David means that Jesus is the King of kings. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end’” (Luke 1:33). Jesus Christ is the King of the descendants of Jacob. Jesus Christ will reign forever and there will be no end to His royal power and all His glory. They will never end.
There are people who rely on the Lord’s righteousness because they have no righteousness of the flesh. They receive the remission of their sins by having knowledge of and faith in the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. The Lord has saved us from the sins of the world because He had pity on us who could not help but go to hell. Jesus eternally reigns over the people who believe in Him and He protects and blesses them. Jesus came to this earth to perform this role.
Today’s Scripture passage says, “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1:34-35). The angel was saying that the Spirit would come upon her, and Jesus would be conceived by the power of God. Therefore, He who would be born through her would be called Jesus, the Son of God; the Son of God actually put on the flesh of man and was born on this earth through Mary. So Mary bore Jesus Christ who saved us from the sins of the world; indeed, she was used for this precious work. The angel was speaking from that context.
At that time, the angel Gabriel gave a more detailed explanation for Mary to more easily understand because she doubted and was perplexed. “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:36-37).
All these things came about according to the Words of prophecy in the Old Testament. Gabriel brought God’s will, and delivered it and this Word of God was fulfilled just as it says. Mary said, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34) Then, the angel Gabriel said, “He that will be born of you is holy and will be called the Son of God. Elizabeth also was called barren but she conceived a son in her old age some time ago. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then, Mary understood the will of God. She accepted it, saying, “I have known no man, but I believe if God says His holy Son who will be called the Savior will be born through me, I believe it will happen according to what He says.” Eventually, Mary obeyed by faith saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). And the angel departed from her.”
We give thanks that God the Father first prepared John the Baptist and then prepared Mary. Jesus Christ put on the flesh of man and came to this world as the Savior through Mary. God the Father thus provided for your salvation and mine. Mary was highly favored before God and used by Him. You and I also receive the remission of sins by faith in the Word of God’s righteousness, and then the Holy Spirit came upon you and me as He did to Mary. Just as Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb, the Spirit of the Son of God has come into the hearts of you and me who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. You and I who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have also become people who have been specially favored of God like Mary.
Mary said she was “the maidservant of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). Everyone is lowly before the Lord, including Mary. She said she was “the maidservant of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). Are you and I lowly before God or aren’t we? We are lowly. Human beings were originally created in the image of God’s likeness and were very precious; but we became lowly people by always being weak and committing transgressions because we were born as descendants of fallen Adam and Eve. Therefore, the Lord made us glorious by making us into the children of God by saving you and me who are lowly from the sins of the world. He came to this earth to become our Savior so that He could make us happy. God the Father prepared John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in order to save you and me from the sins of the world. This is the love of God. Christmas is around the corner. So we must know what things God made preparations for in order to save you and me, and we must give thanks for that. We shouldn’t just do lip service, singing, “♩Joy to the world, the Lord is come, ♬let earth receive her King,” and be thankful with no sincerity.
God Is the God of Justice and Love
God is a Person who speaks His Covenant and fulfills what He says. In the Old Testament, He established the sacrificial system where the High Priest would definitely transfer sins to sacrificial offerings through the laying on of hands, and had the High Priest transfer all the sins committed by the people over a year on the Day of Atonement. Jesus also received the transference of all the sins of mankind by being baptized by John the Baptist who was the representative of mankind.
The angel said, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). The Lord is an honest and faithful Person. The Lord is so “faithful and just” (1 John 1:9) that He doesn’t lie and do false acts. The Lord fulfills whatever He promises to us.
God the Father said that He would send His only begotten Son to this earth. If you read Isaiah 53, God’s servant Isaiah said, “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness” (Isaiah 53:2). There was no one who loved Jesus Christ in a physical sense. But in a spiritual sense, “Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4). He suffered from our sins and grief.
We must know that God had to prepare John the Baptist and His only begotten Son in order to save all sinners on this earth from the sins of the world. Just as Jesus Christ was able to be conceived in Mary’s womb by her faith in the Word of God that was delivered by the angel Gabriel and thus was able to be used in God’s precious work, you and I, by faith now in Jesus Christ’s righteousness and the Word of God, were able to be saved from all our sins, become the children of God, and receive the Holy Spirit as a gift.
We have received the Holy Spirit as a gift by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not come by tumultuous prayers, chanting gibberish, and acting crazed and mad like the Pentecostal ministers do today. The Bible says, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). We can receive the Spirit of God when we receive the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God the Father first prepared John the Baptist and then sent Jesus Christ afterwards and had Him to be baptized in order to save you and me from the sins of the world.
Therefore, we must know that Jesus was born through Mary and was baptized by John the Baptist. When Jesus was 30, He received the transference of all the sins of the world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. He carried all the sins of this world, went to the Cross, was nailed to death saying, “It is finished” (John 19:30), came back to life, and ascended to Heaven. Just before His death, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30); you and I must apply to ourselves and believe in these words that He saved us perfectly from the sins of the world.
My fellow believers, God the Father is our God. Jesus is also our God and the Holy Spirit is also our God. They are all the same God to us. But it is hard for people who still don’t believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to accurately know this fact. They might know it, but it’s hard for them to believe it.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The God in the passage, “For God so loved the world,” refers to God the Father. And ‘the world’ refers to you and me and all mankind. The above verse is speaking of the infinite love of God that saved us who believe in God the Father. He has loved us by preparing His Son, sending Him to this earth, sending John the Baptist to this earth, making him transfer all sins to Jesus, and having Jesus receive that transference of sins, die, and be resurrected from the dead. God’s unconditional love means the love by which He regarded us with pity and saved us. God has saved us from the sins of the world by that kind of love.
My fellow believers! You must know how much God already spoke of our salvation through His servants and planned it before Jesus was born. Jesus wasn’t the One who was born all of a sudden one day. The Bible said He would die for our sins but be resurrected; and the Bible said He was our Savior. God is not an irresponsible Person like that. Starting several thousand years ago, He promised through His servants in advance that He would save all mankind from the sins of the world and fulfilled that promise through John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. He is the God of the Truth. Do you understand?
God the Father prepared His only begotten Son and John the Baptist in order to save you and me from the sins of the world. The Lord also prepared Mary and Elizabeth. The Lord planned for several thousand years in order to save us from sin.
In John 14, our Lord Jesus said, “You believe in God, believe also in Me. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself.” Our Lord went to prepare a place for us in the future. Jesus went to prepare the Kingdom for His people because He is God.
Our Lord is honest and faithful as it is written,
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). He is very honest and faithful. He is a Person who never lies. He makes promises and fulfills them one after another. Therefore, we shouldn’t believe in God like one believes in superstition or idols. We shouldn’t easily think, “The Lord came to this earth anyway and saved us from sin.” If that was the case, why has God given us such a thick Bible? It would suffice for us to have just a one-paged Bible if that was the case. All the Word of God in the Bible is God’s promise to us, the record of those promises being fulfilled, and promises that will be fulfilled in the future. The Bible is divided into these three parts.
I am truly thankful. I don’t know how many more Christmases we will have while living on this earth, but my heart is warm just thinking of our Lord coming to this earth. December 25th isn’t actually the Lord’s birthday; it was known to be the Winter Solstice by the Roman Julian calendar and the birthday of Mithras, the Roman god. Therefore, Christmas can be said to have pagan origin. But all the people in the whole world think December 25th is Christmas, the day Jesus came. Nevertheless, we have to make one day a year into the day we commemorate Jesus’ birth. By the way, my heart is warm and I am thankful just thinking of Jesus.
I feel good and am thankful whenever I think that the Lord made plans in detail for you and me. We have spread the gospel a lot this entire year. The Lord said, “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). When I look back this year, I can’t describe how many things there are that I am thankful for. Many of the world’s pastors, missionaries, and lay believers received the remission of sins all throughout this year. Our books went into over 150 countries all over the world and many people are receiving the remission of sins. They might also joyfully spread this blessed gospel to those around them now. I cannot thank God enough when I think of all these things.